WestJet flight attendants set to unionize

A union is taking steps to represent WestJet flight attendants.
A union is taking steps to represent WestJet flight attendants. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

A union is taking steps to represent WestJet flight attendants, according to a release issued on Monday.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) represents 12,000 flight attendants at 10 airlines across the country.

“When you’re a unionized worker, your life becomes a lot better,” said Hugh Pouliot, senior communications officer at CUPE.

For the last year, CUPE has been working with WestJet flight attendants to form a union, he said.

In May 2017, WestJet pilots officially unionized with the Air Line Pilots Association.

“They really started to see the value that a labour union could bring to them at work in advancing their rights at work,” Pouliot said. “And so that’s when we saw a really big surge in interest from WestJetters.”

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The change comes down to addressing scheduling and lifestyle.

“The main issues that we’ve heard from flight attendants are things like compensation, scheduling is a really big one, and there are some concerns about seniority,” he said.

Though they can’t be guaranteed, these are things that CUPE has negotiated for other flight attendant collective agreements at Air Canada and Air Transat.

Pouliot said unionized flight attendants get paid more, have more control over their schedules, receive footwear allowances, get access to better health and safety expertise, receive better retirement security and get layover pay.

“You’re constantly on call,” Pouliot said. “It’s a challenging career, but being part of a union is a huge, huge way to bring stability to your livelihood and your home life.”

He added that there is no clear timeline for unionization.

WestJet was reached but declined to comment.

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